Mobile Health Application & Development
How we designed and developed, a 25-screen web and mobile application that helps patients and their doctors safely manage opioid medications after surgery for our healthcare client.
Written by Luis Paradela
About the Client
Our client is a healthcare company that works to reduce the incidence of opioid dependence by facilitating safe management of pain medication after surgery. The client partners with a local university to design solutions that help physicians and patients communicate effectively and work together for safe medication management, as well as driving research in this field.
The Healthcare App Development Challenge
Our client contracted AccelOne to develop the mobile application that would help post-surgical patients and their providers monitor and adjust the pain medication regime. On the patient side, our client wanted individuals to be able to track how their pain responded to prescribed opioid medications, as well as easily find nearby locations where they could safely return unused opioids. On the provider side, physicians needed to be able to monitor patient application inputs so that they could flag patterns of high-risk medication use. On a large scale, data from the app would present a research opportunity for examining correlations with specific medications, surgical procedures, and patient attributes, with the ultimate goal of expanding knowledge on how to improve outcomes and prevent opioid dependence.
It was up to AccelOne to propose the specific set of screens that would be included in the app, create a branded design, and build the application. This presented several exciting challenges for our team:
- The app had to be extremely easy to adopt and use, as an application intended for patients who are already experiencing the challenges of recovering from surgery. The enrollment screens required a lot of information, and we needed to find a way for patients to make all entries in as few steps as possible. Then, the app had to be so simple that they would stick with using it through recovery, providing up-to-date information to their physicians.
- As an application with patient and provider interfaces, it had to account for the distinct ways that physicians prefer to visualize and download patient data.
- As a behavior change-focused mobile app, it needed to provide a simple, visual way for patients to interpret how they were progressing with their pain, ultimately encouraging them to use only as much medication as they needed.
- Because this product was academically funded, the available budget was lower than usual. The architecture needed to accomplish all requirements while providing a great user experience within budget.
- As for all healthcare products, the app needed to be fully HIPAA compliant.
Our Project Team
The design and development for the app were taken on by a highly qualified AccelOne team that included a senior user experience (UX) designer with extensive experience in mobile health application design and healthcare platforms, a user interface (UI) designer, two full stack web developers, and a mobile application developer. A technical project manager (TPM) tracked technical requirements and ensured that the project was on time and within budget. Our senior quality assurance (QA) engineer designed and implemented the quality assurance process.
The Health Application Solution
In response to our client’s requirements, AccelOne designed and developed a medication management app with more than 25 screens created for two distinct user types for use on both desktops and as a native mobile application. Despite the app’s complexity, our team achieved a product that was very easy to use for both patients and physicians.
Patients using the app can:
- Enroll in the application to connect with their physician
- Track their opioid prescription use by dosage and frequency
- Record their pain level at regular intervals
- Set up notifications for checking in about pain and medication
- View a graph of their medication use over time
- Find locations for returning unused opioids
Physicians using the application can:
- Receive real-time data on their patients’ pain recovery progress
- Monitor patient data and identify intervention thresholds
- Find patterns and correlations between high-risk medication use and patient attributes and conditions
- Aggregate patient data
- Download reports
The Health App Design & Development Process
The entire design and development process was conducted with an open flow of communication between the client and the AccelOne team, and all deadlines were met to deliver the product to the client’s requirements. AccelOne built the application in four phases:
Design Our UX designer first created low fidelity screens and wireframes, and then iteratively refined them with the client to come up with the final screens. Our UI designer then applied the color scheme and added images and branding. Invision was used for the initial wireframes, and then Figma was used for UI design and digital assets sharing among team members.
Web Development Because the goal was to have the app available for use on both desktop and mobile, our full stack web developers started by first creating the web app version of the product.
Mobile Development Using the web app version as a guide, our mobile developer embedded the new web application in a mobile app using a cross-platform framework and added the notifications feature.
Quality Assurance Our quality assurance engineer then designed and ran end-to-end testing to ensure that the entire platform was accomplishing all use cases and edge cases. We documented cases using Cucumber Studio and utilized YouTrack to manage the QA process and for bug tracking.
The app was able to achieve great user experience and performance with all functionalities, making it highly usable for patients as well as an important tool for patient-physician collaboration around safe opioid use. Meeting the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements for patient data privacy and security was of utmost importance, and AccelOne was able to create an app architecture that stores no personal data on mobile devices. In response to the client’s goal to launch this app with few providers and increase the user base in the near future, the platform we created is also ready to scale to support a large patient base and allows for the addition of new features. The original platform and architecture created by AccelOne for this app are also now ready to expand to new specialty areas within healthcare as well as outside the healthcare field.